MASON, Ohio (AP) Wimbledon champion Roger Federer withdrew from the Western & Southern Open on Monday because of a back injury. He has won this Masters series tournament seven times.
The move was announced on the first full day of matches. This U.S. Open warmup has now lost five of the top six players in the men’s rankings.
Federer, a 19-time major champion, said in a statement he ”tweaked” his back last week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where he lost Sunday’s final to Alexander Zverev.
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The Swiss star, ranked No. 3, is sidelined along with No. 1 Andy Murray, No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, No. 5 Novak Djokovic and No. 6 Marin Cilic, the defending champion. Only No. 2 Rafael Nadal, the top-seeded player, remains in the draw.
Tournament officials also tweeted that 21st-ranked Gael Monfils is out because of an undisclosed illness. All the missing players except Cilic are 30 or older.
”It’s just coincidence,” said Nadal, 31. ”We’re not 20 years old any more. We’re not playing all the weeks. It’s part of our sport. I’ve been in their position lots of times. I’ve missed more events than the other players. It’s part of the game. I wish them all a speedy recovery. We need them in the game. I hope they get back soon.”
Federer’s withdrawal means Nadal, who lost in the third round at Montreal, will return to No. 1 when new ATP rankings are released Aug. 21. The Spaniard will be No. 1 for the first time since July 6, 2014.
Nadal has spent 141 weeks at No. 1 since first ascending there after reaching the Western & Southern semifinals in 2008.
”It’s been tough to get back to No. 1,” he said. ”I’m happy to have the chance to be in that position.”
In early first-round men’s play, Richard Gasquet and wild-card Tommy Paul advanced in straight sets. Gasquet eased past qualifier John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 6-4, and Paul beat fellow American Donald Young 6-4, 7-6 (4). Ivo Karlovic ousted Jiri Vesely 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Also advancing in straight sets were Fabio Fognini, a 7-6 (5), 6-4 winner over Daniil Medvedev; qualifier Mitchell Krueger, 6-2, 6-1 over Benoit Paire; and Feliciano Lopez, 7-6 (5), 6-1 over Hyeon Chung.
Among the women, 14th-seeded Petra Kvitova rallied past Anett Kontaveit 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3; Beatriz Haddad Maia topped Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-2; and Lesia Tsurenko defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-0.
Kristina Mladenovic, seeded 13th, became the first seeded player to lose, beaten by Daria Gavrilova 6-0, 7-6 (6).